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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Blue Devils Conclude Homestand with Orange, Eagles
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 09/26/2017
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DURHAM, N.C. -- After an undefeated weekend to open ACC play, Duke (10-3, 2-0 ACC) concludes a six-match homestand this week versus conference foes Syracuse (9-6, 1-1 ACC) and Boston College (3-9, 0-2 ACC). The Blue Devils battle the Orange at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28 before taking on the Eagles at 1 p.m., Sunday Oct. 1. 

Admission to both matches is free to all fans, while ACC Network Extra will carry a live stream of both matches via and the ESPN app.

Thursday, Sept. 28 | 6:30 p.m. | ACC Network Extra
Thursday’s contest marks the seventh all-time meeting between Duke and Syracuse. The Blue Devils lead the all-time series, 5-1. A season ago, Duke topped Syracuse on the road in the four sets. The Orange took the teams’ last meeting in Cameron, a 3-1 decision Nov. 13, 2015. The Blue Devils and the Orange are set to meet twice in the same season for the first time in program history. Duke travels to Syracuse Nov. 19 to conclude the 2017 home-and-home series.

Sunday, Oct. 1 | 1 p.m. | ACC Network Extra
Duke and Boston College have taken the court 19 times since their first encounter in 2005. The Blue Devils lead the Eagles, 18-1, in the all-time series, including a streak of five straight. Boston College’s lone victory came in straight sets Oct. 6, 2012 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. A year ago, Duke bested BC 3-1 in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz has enjoyed a tremendous start to her collegiate career. The rookie from Frisco, Texas leads the Blue Devils in total kills (156) and kills per set (3.12) while hitting .278 on the year. Schwantz has recorded double-digit kills in 10 of Duke’s 13 matches this season, including seven straight from Sept. 2-22. She was named ACC Freshman of the Week Sept. 11 after leading the Blue Devils to an undefeated weekend at the Fight in the Fort at TCU tournament and also earned all-tournament team honors for her efforts. Schwantz also picked up 2017 Duke Invitational All-Tournament accolades at the conclusion of the Blue Devils’ annual tournament.

After battling injuries throughout her career, senior outside hitter Cadie Bates has been a key contributor to the 2017 Blue Devils, playing all six rotations. Through 13 matches, Bates ranks second on the team with 148 kills, one shy of her career high (149) set in 2015. She totaled a career-best 20 kills in the season opener at Colorado State and is the only Blue Devil to reach 20 kills in a match this season. Bates has also been solid on defense and leads the Blue Devils with five double-doubles (Aug. 25 at Colorado State, Aug. 26 vs. UCF, Sept. 1 vs. UNCW, Sept. 9 vs. Utah Valley and Sept. 24 vs. Georgia Tech). She trails only libero Nicole Elattrache in total digs and digs per set this season.

Entering the weekend, Duke ranks fourth in the ACC in hitting percentage (.246), third in assists per set (12.66) and fourth in kills per set (13.46) despite the fact Duke does not have a single player in the top 10 in hitting percentage or kills per set. Setters Emma Paradiso and Sarah Nelson run Duke’s 6-2 system, featuring strong efforts from outside hitters Payton Schwantz and Cadie Bates as well as rightside hitters Natalie Schilling and Samantha Amos. Schilling currently leads the lead with a .315 hitting percentage and has five matches to her credit hitting .300 or better with nine-plus kills. Amos has five matches with 10 or more kills, including a 10-kill performance on .556 hitting the last time out against Georgia Tech. 

Senior Nicole Elattrache has assumed the starting libero role and leads the Blue Devils with 193 digs. Elattrache currently ranks eighth in the ACC, averaging 3.86 digs per set. She earned Fight in the Fort at TCU tournament MVP honors after totaling a career-high 29 digs in Duke’s win over Lehigh. For her career, Elattrache owns 880 digs and is 120 shy of becoming the 23rd Blue Devil in program history to reach 1,000 career digs. 

Head coach Jolene Nagel earned her 600th career victory in Duke’s straight-set victory over TCU Sept. 9 in Fort Worth, Texas. With the victory, Nagel became the 22nd active NCAA Division I head coach to reach 600 career wins and joined Florida State’s Chris Poole and North Carolina’s Joe Sagula as the only three ACC coaches to reach the milestone. For her coaching career, Nagel owns a 605-338 record with stints at Cornell, Georgetown and Duke. In her 19th season with the Blue Devils, Nagel owns a 402-198 record at Duke including a 242-100 mark in the ACC.

Junior middle blocker Leah Meyer earned 2017 Preseason All-ACC recognition after leading the 2016 Blue Devils with 139 blocks and ranking second on the team with 316 kills. Meyer garnered AVCA All-East Coast Region and First Team All-ACC accolades for her sophomore season performance. Meyer ranked sixth in the ACC and 35th nationally with a 1.31 blocks-per-set average. Her 139 total blocks were also the most by a Blue Devil since Chelsea Cook in 2012. She posted at least four blocks in 18 matches, including her first career double-double Sept. 24 at Virginia. Meyer totaled 12 kills and 11 blocks at UVA to record the first double-double for a Duke middle blocker since Christian Gray in 2012. On offense, Meyer ranked second on the team in kills and ranked eighth in the ACC in hitting percentage. For her career, Meyer has averaged 1.20 blocks per set, good for fourth all-time at Duke.

Duke Blocks per Set (Career)
1. Jourdan Norman MB 2005-08 1.36
2. Jen Rohrig MB 1990-93 1.30
3. Krista Dill MB 2000-03 1.26
4. Leah Meyer MB 2015-16 1.20
5. Linda Kraft 1983-86 1.15
6. Adrian Nichol MB 1991-94 1.12
7. Rachel Vander Griend MB 1999-2002 1.09
8. Carrie DeMange MB 2004-07 1.03
9. Christiana Gray MB 2009-12 1.03
10. Sylvia Thomson MB 1986-89 1.00